Purpose: We studied 17 patients with periventricular nodular heterotopia (PNH) to further investigate the electroclinical pictures and semiology of the associated seizures.
Methods: PNH was diagnosed by means of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The patients' clinical and familial histories were carefully analyzed, and their electroclinical features and course of epilepsy followed for periods ranging from 10 months to 22 years. The electroclinical data were compared with those of previously reported PNH cases.
Results: The patients were subdivided into those with bilateral (7) and unilateral (10) PNH. The former were mainly characterized by structural abnormalities in the posterior cerebral fossa and multiple seizure types; the latter were characterized by the paratrigonal location of the malformation and, frequently, by elementary seizures with a visual or auditory onset. Focal seizures were drug resistant in most cases. The interictal EEG abnormalities were always focal and consistent with the location of the PNH. A previously unreported photic driving of posterior background activity was observed in all patients and was always consistent with the PNH location.
Conclusions: Our present findings and previously reported data show that bilateral and unilateral PNH cases are different in their morphological and electroclinical features and may be determined by different etiologies. The female predominance, frequent familial occurrence, and positive family history for epilepsy suggest that genetic factors may be involved in the genesis of bilateral and symmetrical PNH, whereas the presence of prenatal risk factors and its location in the watershed paratrigonal area suggest that vascular mechanisms may determine unilateral PNH.